Opening the farm gate on Opening Weekend
Federated Farmers reminds duck hunters heading out on Saturday for the season opening that access to farms is a privilege.
The ‘Opening Day’ of the duck-shooting season is a big deal in rural New Zealand, with 40,000 annual participants across the country. Hunters will pay their money to Fish and Game for a duck shooting licence but access is usually reliant on the goodwill of local farmers. Many hunters find themselves beside a wetland built and maintained on private farmland. Many of these arrangements are several generations old, established on a handshake.
"Farmers and visiting hunters alike look forward to the opening weekend of the duck-shooting season,’’ says Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson Chris Allen.
"But access on to farms comes with responsibilities for both hunter and farmer. Farms are businesses, homes and places of recreation, and we ask that people recognise this when they head out for a shot this weekend.’’
Health and safety around firearms, water and vehicles remains the number one consideration but there are other things for hunters to think about as well.
Biosecurity is essential on farms, and with serious new threats such as Mycoplasma Bovis, hunters need to ask landowners about any special requirements, particularly when driving between different properties. For sheep farmers, sheep measles is a big concern, and all dogs must be dosed for worms at least 48 hours before going on to farmland.
"The basics of rural etiquette such as leaving gates as you find them, controlling dogs and not disturbing stock remain the same," says Chris. "Remember that fewer and fewer people come from a farming back ground, and what was once rural common sense may no longer be known by all farm visitors," says Chris.
"Opening weekend is a time for farmers to showcase and share their properties with visitors from town and a chance for hunters to show their appreciation to their farmer hosts. We just want everyone to have a good time this weekend and come home safe to their loved ones."